Play It Again Sam 17 (Superior/Acornsoft) Review | - Everygamegoing

Too Big Issue

Play It Again Sam 17
By Superior/Acornsoft
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Play It Again Sam 17

Strangely different to the others, this compilation only features one game actually written by Superior Software, has very sparse instructions (instead of a sheet you get them printed on the inside of the cover), the packaging is different and there is no Electron version. I think this is because it was released right at the death of the BBC era, and demand wasn't high for new games. Anyway, on with the review.

Summer Olympiad

This is a game by (in my opinion) the masters of all sports compendiums ever, Tynesoft. You may remember Winter Olympiad by them as well. Well, this is more of the same except the events are different. They are Fencing, Diving, Hurdles, Triple Jump and Clay Pigeon Shooting. Basically, the aim is to do as well in each event as possible, gaining either a Gold, Silver or Bronze. The winner at the end is the one with the most Gold Medals. You can play this game with up to three friends, the places not played by humans being controlled by the BBC. There are three rounds to each event with your best score over the rounds being the one that counts after all three rounds have been played. Then the medals are handed out.

As you would expect from a game of this type, the gameplay is very varied, and you always feel like playing all the through to the end. In Fencing, you have to touch your opponent's body three times with the sword, whilst parrying and blocking his attempts to do the same. It is quite random (at least the way I play it!), although the computer does use a certain amount of skill, whereas I just wiggle the sword around! It is fun though, the only bad thing being that you can't play against a friend, only against the computer.

Triple Jump is next up, and is quite enjoyable; you have to tap the Z and X keys rhythmically to get the jumper's speed up, and then press the spacebar before he hits the white line. The amount of time you press the space bar increases the angle at which he jumps. This is a very skilled round, but fun.

Skeet Shooting is my favourite event, you just have to shoot the clay pigeons which are fired, the winner being the one who hits the most clay pigeons.

Hurdles is roughly the same as Triple Jump, with the difference being you have to press the Spacebar at the right time in order to jump the fences. This is an annoying event because, however hard you try, the computer always seems to win!

Diving is fairly straightforward; just use different spins and jumps and try to get as good a landing as possible in order to impress the judges. It is fine in theory, but the moves aren't varied enough, and it is hard to control.

The graphics are really quite superb in this game, with nice high-resolution screens announcing the different events, and a great opening ceremony view of the games. The game itself is played in low-resolution mode, and in some of the events the colours do clash a bit, but they are drawn very well. The graphics move well, have no flicker and the animation is, on the whole, quite good. The music is very nice as well; there is great opening scene music, and also music between events, and it is a pleasure rather than a burden to listen to!

The whole game is put together excellently, but unfortunately is not as well put together as other Tynesoft games, particularly Winter Olympiad.


This one is programmed by a company previously unknown to me, Eterna. The game was originally released on the Acorn Archimedes, and is basically a twist on the age-old Tetris theme. This is quite a good idea, particularly on the Beeb, as we have not been blessed with a decent conversion of the old classic yet!

You have to make certain larger shapes out of the blocks and circles which fall from the top of the screen. This gains you points, but to complete the level you have to make a certain number of specific shapes, which is shown by a number next to each shape which you must create from the blocks. When you make all of these shapes, you have completed the level. The basic shapes you have to make are: three in a horizontal line, three in a vertical line, three in a diagonal line, four in a square shape and finally a cross shape made from five shapes. You have to use identical blocks to make each shape. This may sound good, but in practice it is not an ideal game. It just lacks that certain enjoyment factor which you get from Tetris. At times it can become very annoying, and the shapes are sometimes hard to distinguish from each other.

The graphics are fairly empty, as are most puzzle game graphics. All the shapes are standard fills and shades, and the rest of the screen is blank apart from the walls of the playing area. The one redeeming thing about this is that the game can cope with two players playing at the same time. This can be more competitive, but isn't really brilliant. The sound is also very bland. In fact, there isn't much of it at all.

Overall, not a brilliant game, but worth a play if you like this sort of thing. It is quite good for two players, but nothing more than average.

Master Break

You may have seen my earlier review on this game, but now that it's on disk, I think it's worth a few more points. The basic game is a quiz snooker game, with you having to answer questions on a myriad of subjects in order to pot the balls.

You can play this game with up to four players, and it is definitely not a game for you to play on your own, just as you wouldn't play Trivial Pursuit on your own! The game starts with you having to answer a red ball question, which is easy(ish) and only worth one point. Should you get that right, you get a choice of any coloured ball questions; these having the same number of points allocated to them as in the real game of snooker, i.e. black is the most points, but is also the hardest. You can answer questions on the following topics - Science & Nature, Pop Music, Geography, Sports & Pastimes, The Arts and History. The questions are very testing and, as there are over 1,500 of them, they'll keep you going for a while! I did once hear rumours that Superior might release extra question packs for this game, but it never happened, which is a shame.

The graphics in this game are very bland, and this disappoints me because, with a game like this, where not much movement is required, I would at least expect the game to be laid out in a manner which is appealing to the eye. Even the loading screen is minimal. The sound is also very boring. Again, I would have at least expected a musical score to accompany the game... perhaps The Entertainer?

Despite not being well presented, once you get into it, it can be a very enjoyable game as long as you don't play it alone! One minor gripe is that a lot of the questions (and not just history ones!) tend to rely on you knowing the year in which something happened and, although you get a choice of four, it is quite repetitive.

Video's Revenge

Oh dear, not another shoot-'em-up! You'd think that by the time 1992 came around (which is when the compilation was originally released) Superior would have realised how hackneyed the whole genre had become but, oh no, they stick this one on us. Written by Alligata and hardly a classic even when it was originally released, this is the standard shoot everything type of game with no plot at all.

The twist in this game is that you can either speed up or slow down the craft you are moving in, other than that, not a great deal has changed. You just shoot the aliens coming at you, or dodge them. As in the classic Galaforce, the aliens attack in waves, although they aren't really organised pattern formations as they are in Galaforce. On the whole this is quite pointless, and the gimmick (the speed control of your ship) is entirely unnecessary, as it breaks up the flow of the game.

The graphics are not gobsmacking, the don't use any technical wizardry to move obscenely fast, they don't make you go wow. In short, they are boring. The sound too is minimal, and not very inspiring. I can't really think of anything good to say about this game other than the fact that it sits somewhere on the pile of shoot-'em-up games just above "complete drivel" and below "average shoot-'em-up".


Four games, one by Superior, and it just happens to be the best of the bunch. None of the games are particularly brilliant. In fact, they are all sort of just above mediocre. I suppose it's hardly surprising, as Superior were probably scraping the bottom of the barrel for the last good games after sixteen compilations. Still, PIAS 18, which features Nevryon, E-Type, Holed Out and Citadel 2 is coming soon, and certainly sounds better on paper!

Russell Wills

Other BBC B/B+/Master 128 Game Reviews By Russell Wills

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  • Play It Again Sam 12 Front Cover
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  • Revs Plus Revs 4 Tracks Front Cover
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  • The Superior Collection Volume 2 Front Cover
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  • Play It Again Sam 9 Front Cover
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  • Play It Again Sam 6 Front Cover
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  • Play It Again Sam 3 Front Cover
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